Eastern Roman and Avar Relations in the Balkans During the Reign of Emperor Tiberius II Constantine (572- 582)Metin Uslu, Gülseren Azar Nasırabadı
This study concerns the relations the Eastern Roman/Byzantine Empire had with the Avars and Slavs in the Balkans during the reign of Emperor Tiberius II Constantine and has been prepared according to the historical sources of this period as well as researchers’ works. The content of the study first presents the Avars’ first contact with the empire during the end of Justinian I’s reign and then presents the state of the Avars in the region during the reign of Emperor Justin II. The study then goes on to address Tiberius II Constantine’s relationship with the Avars both before he was crowned emperor and during his reign, the beginning of the Slavic invasion, its effects on the whole region, and the empire’s reaction to this, finishing with the Avars’ siege of Sirmium, an important Eastern Roman city, by the Avars and eventual capture in 582 AD. Based on the titles, the study will range in date from 572 AD when Tiberius II Constantine began his relationship with the Avars prior to becoming emperor up to 582 AD when he died as emperor. The chain of historical developments took place at a time that marked a turning point for the Balkans and was also important regarding Emperor Tiberius II Constantine’s policies, as well as the activities of Bayan Khagan, the famous Avar leader. The emperor’s practices were beneficial at first, but later became inadequate and resulted in losses. While he had been able to find a solution to the extensive invasion of the Slavs, which began for the first time during his reign, he was unable to prevent the Avars from increasing their pressure. Thus, the border of the empire along the Danube River deteriorated. Afterward, a difficult process began for the empire in the Balkans, while the Avars would go on to become a great power in Southeastern Europe. This applied not only to the 6th century AD but also to the 7th.
İmparator Tiberios Konstantinos Döneminde Balkanlarda Doğu Roma- Avar İlişkileri (572- 582)Metin Uslu, Gülseren Azar Nasırabadı
Bu çalışma, İmparator Tiberios Konstantinos döneminde Doğu Roma/ Bizans İmparatorluğu’nun Balkanlarda Avarlarla ve Slavlarla olan ilişkilerini kapsamaktadır. Dönemin tarihi kaynakları ve araştırma eserlere göre hazırlanmıştır. Çalışmanın içeriğinde, Iustinianos'un son döneminde Avarların imparatorlukla ilk teması ve sonrasında II. Iustinos'un hükümdarlığında Avarların bölgedeki durumu bulunmaktadır. Sonrasında Tiberios Konstantinos’un hem imparator olarak taçlandırılmadan önce hem de imparatorluğu sırasında Avarlarla ilişkisi, bu sırada Slav istilasının başlaması, bütün bölgeyi etkilemesi, imparatorluğun buna karşı tepkisi ve son olarak önemli bir Doğu Roma kenti olan Sirmium’un Avarlar tarafından kuşatılması ve 582 yılında ele geçirilmesi yer almaktadır. Bu başlıklardan dolayı, bu çalışmanın tarih aralığı Tiberios Konstantinos'un imparator olmadan önce Avarlarla ilişkisinin başladığı 572 yılından, imparator olarak öldüğü 582 yılına kadardır. Bu tarihsel gelişmeler zinciri, Balkanlar için dönüm noktası olabilecek bir dönemde gerçekleşmiştir. İmparator Tiberios Konstantinos’un politikası ve Avarların ünlü lideri Bayan Kağan’ın faaliyetleri açısından da önemlidir. İmparatorun uygulamaları ilk başta faydalı olmuş ilk defa ancak sonrasında yetersiz kalmış ve kayıplarla sonuçlanmıştır. İlk defa bu dönemde başlayan Slavların kapsamlı istilasına karşı çözüm bulabilmiştir. Ancak daha sonra Avarların baskısının artmasına engel olamamıştır. Böylece imparatorluğun Tuna nehri sınır hattı bozulmuştur. Bu dönemden sonra Avarlar Güneydoğu Avrupa’da büyük bir güç haline gelirken, imparatorluk için Balkanlarda zorlu bir süreç başlamıştır. Bu durum sadece VI. yüzyıl için değil sonraki yüzyıl için de geçerlidir.
When the illustrious Emperor Justinian died in 565 AD, a new era began in the Eastern Roman Empire that would come to be known as the Byzantine Empire and involved various historical cases. Of course, this was also valid for the Balkans region, which had been under imperial rule for many years. In particular, the arrival of the Avars in the Balkans to the north of the Danube River, their strengthened position there, and the actions Slavs took are seen as remarkable developments in the second half of the 6th century AD.
According to historical sources, the first contact between Eastern Romans and the Avars took place in the last years of Emperor Justinian I. The emperor had applied policies such as partnership or tribute payments to the Avars. But after Justinian I, Justin II ascended the throne and rejected these policies. In addition, the Avars had dominated many tribes, destroyed the Gepids, and caused the Lombards to move toward Italy. Justin II adopted an uncompromising method while the Avars were establishing their authority in regions of Southeastern Europe. Thus, the Avars and some tribes under their rule started to attack, to which the empire reacted and subsequently made a treaty. Although this treaty provided peace in the Balkans and its frontiers for a while, it caused the empire’s alliance with the Göktürks against the Sassanians to break down. Nevertheless, the treaty was requisite for the presence and security of the empire. The prominent figure in providing peace was Tiberius II, who was commander of Justin II. Tiberius II had personally contacted the Avars, both through fighting and negotiating.
After these developments, the commander Tiberius II Constantine came to rule the Eastern Roman Empire in 574 AD as Caesar and then in 578 AD as Augustus. The relations between the Avars and the empire increased and intensified during his reign. Contrary to the policy of his predecessor, Tiberius II contemplated using diplomacy as a Byzantine tradition due to his experiences with the Avars. However, the extensive invasion of the Slavs and the beginning of their settlements in the Balkans also had occurred for the first time during this period. This was an important event in a historical context. Large crowds had entered the Balkans, started invading the entire region including Thrace and setting up new settlements, and also devastated Greece. The Empire could not sufficiently respond to this invasion due to other problems the empire was experiencing, such as the Sassanian wars in the east and a lack of military forces. Therefore, Emperor Tiberius II Constantine asked the famous leader of the Avars, Bayan Khagan, for help. Khagan accepted and organized attacks on Slavic tribes, entering the territory of the empire. This seems to have been the right method for the empire and was successful. The Slavs had been defeated, and the Avars had acted as allies in this situation.
Despite its convenient appearance, Tiberius II Constantine’s policy did not last long, for the Avars were demanding Sirmium again. This city was an important center for empire due to it being located at the intersection of the Danube and Sava rivers and having been an outpost over the Balkans for a long time. For the Avars, Sirmium was an important target that functioned as a gateway to the lands south of the Danube River. The Gepids had captured this city while it belonged to the Eastern Romans. Afterward when the Avars had eliminated the entire Gepid Kingdom, Eastern Romans recaptured the city. Thus, the Avars claimed that they should have Sirmium and sent envoys to the emperor to take the city without a fight. The emperor met with them twice but could not achieve a successful outcome, as the Avars’ demands were unacceptable to him. At the same time, he commanded to prepare for war. There were not enough soldiers in the Balkans. As a result, he wanted to form an alliance with the Lombards. However, this plan failed before it even started.
While Emperor Tiberius II Constantine was dealing with these conjunctures, the Avars laid siege to Sirmium. Much time passed, and inconclusive battles had also been started, but the empire remained unable to succeed in this war. Once famine began in the city and the people fell into difficult situations, the emperor was forced to make peace with the Avars. The terms of the treaty involved the evacuation of the inhabitants, tribute being paid by the empire, and the city being surrendered to the Avars. This took place in 582 AD, shortly before the death of Tiberius II Constantine. In the years that followed, the Avar threat would increase alongside the Slav problems, and Eastern Roman authority would decline in the Balkans. The status of the Avars in the Balkans and their activities toward the empire were also observed during the reigns of the Emperors Maurice, Phocas, and Heraclius.